Rose and Barry Downard – Oak Tree Cottage
Fish Eagles, Yellowbilled kites, Crested Eagle, Grey Herons, Crowned Cranes. A Gymnogene being chased off by an Egyptian goose and several other birds. Flocks of Guineafowl. Natal Green snakes, skinks, Natal tree frogs, millipedes, butterflies, bees. Duiker, Samango monkey. Heard: Jackals. A tiny Natal Tree Frog (Leptopelis natalensis) asleep on our window.
Sandra and Pat Merrick – Albury Farm
Not very much to report this month. At the beginning of the month during the hot weather, our dogs killed 2 black snakes at their water bowl. Never seen these snakes before and they appeared to be mating, as were joined together at the tail. One was about 70cm and the other about 50cm. They were thin with no visible markings.
We have seen a number of duiker. 2 males and 1 female one evening. Still a number of reed buck. The oribi have been seen close to the house in the early mornings and late afternoons. See the female every few days on her own. They move between 4 farms around us.
The Black sparrow hawk pair seem to have hatched a youngster, as there are now 3 of them flying around inside the gum trees.
An unusual siting for us early this month was a flock of sacred ibis (13) which arrived at our dam every evening for about half an hour wallowing in the shallows.
We have not seen them up this way before. More in the vlei down at Lidgetton flats.
What was very special this month was the hatching of 7 shell duck. This pair of South African shell duck have visited the farm for many years in the month of May but for the last 2 years they seem to have taken up residence on our farm. Last year they hatched out 8 babies which grew to adulthood. This year they moved on after 3 weeks due to the drying up of our dam and we are hoping that they have moved to the dam lower down on neighbours farm.
Malachite sunbirds, cape robin, a pair of olive thrush, cape wagtail hatched out 2 babies in our jasmine creeper next to house. They nested same place last year.
Orange throated longclaw and familiar and buffstreaked chats around garden every day. Yellow billed kite, jackal buzzard. Heard the fish eagle. Our pair of blue crane is back and I have high hopes that they will nest here again but with our dam drying up completely, I fear they might go elsewhere. I think we need to pray for good rains to fall soon as our rivers, dams and streams are drying up.
Malvina and Evert van Bremem – Old Furth Estate
It would seem that our ever-elusive leopard has surfaced again – a neighbour’s staff member confirmed conclusively after lengthy interrogation and picture-showing that TWO leopards were seen entering our plantation next to the road!
Other exciting sightings were the herd of 11 gorgeous Eland spotted grazing the new growth on the slopes of Nhlosane.
We have also had a young Martial Eagle in constant attendance down near the bottom dam, along with a Jackal Buzzard who is busily catching anything it can find – I have seen it with a snake and a rodent of some description. Two oribi have been seen at a great distance.
With the hot weather we have had several puffadders, some too close for comfort. Natal green snakes abound as usual and of course also baby chameleons everywhere around the house. Our guttural toads are back in full voice near the house as well. The swallows are very busy shopping for prime real estate under our veranda to nest/start building. The hadeda pair has built a nest in a stinkwood just near the house stream and their peaceful idyll was rudely invaded by weavers, who definitely get the nesting pair somewhat annoyed at the end of the day when they all flap and display at their nests.
Pied kingfishers are very much in evidence and several different herons. The jackal have been very vocal and the baboons are back on the heights.
Nikki Brighton – Old Kilgobbin Farm
Birds: two African Hoopoes, a Knysna Loerie eating Clivia seed outside my window, Yellow billed kites, Bush black cap, Amethyst sunbird, Malachite sunbird,
Swallows, Thickbilled weavers, masked Weavers, Southern Boubou, Olive Thrush, Ring-necked dove, Chorister Robin Chat, Cape Robin Chat, Mousebirds, White Eyes, Sombre bulbuls, Bulbuls, Cape Parrots, Sacred Ibis, collared (lots) and double collared Sunbirds, Stone chat, fiscal shrike, Jackal Buzzards, Egyptian geese, Rock pigeons, laughing doves, Cormorant, Bronze Mannekins, Hadedas Heard – Blue and Crowned Cranes, Wood Owl
Plants: Burchellia bulbilina,
Clausena anisata, Nemesia denticulate, Kouhoutia amatymbica, Apodolirion buchananii, Tulbaghia leucantha, Cyrtanthus breviflorus,
Canthium mundianum, Oxalis sp, Ursinia tenuiloba, Veronia hirsuta, Senecio speciosus,
Dierama, Gerbera, Everlastings, Acalypha penduncularis, Gladiolus longicaulis,
Hypoxis sp, Hemizigia teucrifolia, Ledebouria, Aster bakeriana, a small tree I think is Putterlickia, but not sure,
Mammals: One Oribi, Jackal, a few Reedbuck, one Bushbuck, lots of Samango monkeys. Heard – Tree Dassies
Other creatures: Plenty of frogs already, gazillions of tiny black caterpillars, gaudy commodore and emerald swallowtail butterflies and others, tiny bats, interesting black insect on a dierama which I haven’t identified yet.
Crookes family – Copperleigh Farm
We’ve spotted only 1 snake so far, Natal Green Snake which was on the roof of our verandah before disappearing inside. A few Reedbuck, Crowned Crane. The Vervet monkeys have been around the bottom end of the farm opposite Barrets Country House quite a bit. I’ve yet to photograph them. Soon! We also had a Heron trying to eat a crab the one evening round dusk. We sat and watched it battling for a few minutes which was quite entertaining – not so much for the crab though I’m sure!
Lots of wildflowers starting to come up in the veld and along the stream. Is this Morea spathulata?
A young fern coming up through the burnt ground on one of the Firebreaks, a welcome sign. Hopefully the grass also will come through soon with a bit more rain.
Andrew Pridgeon – Copperleigh Farm
On 2nd of September at 2am we saw a Grey Duiker, Bushbuck Doe and a Porcupine near the clearing in the gum trees below La Bon Vie – on the Dargle/Impendle road.